Thouars - Encyclopedia




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THOUARS, a town of western France, in the department of Deux-Sevres, on the right bank of the Thouet, 24 m. S. by W. of Saumur on the railway to Bordeaux. Pop. (1906), 5321. A massive stronghold built in the first half of the 17th century by the La Tremoille family, and now used as a prison, stands on a rocky eminence overlooking the river, towards which it has a frontage of nearly 400 ft. The adjoining Sainte-Chapelle dating from the early years of the 16th century is in the Gothic style with Renaissance details, and was built by Gabrielle de Bourbon, wife of Louis II. of La Tremoille. The church of St Medard, rebuilt in the 15th century, preserves a doorway of a previous Romanesque building. That of St Laon (12th and 15th centuries) was formerly attached to an abbey, the buildings (17th century) of which serve as town-hall. It has a fine square tower in the Romanesque style and contains the sculptured tomb of the abbot Nicholas. Remains of the ramparts of the town dating from the z3th century and flanked by huge towers are still to be seen, and a bridge of the same period crosses the Thouet. The manufacture of furniture and wooden shoes, and the preparation of veterinary medicine and lime, are carried on. Wine, livestock and agricultural produce are the chief articles of trade.

Thouars, which probably existed in the Gallo-Roman period, became in the 9th century the seat of powerful viscounts, who in later times were zealous supporters of the English. In 1372 the latter were expelled from the town by Bertrand du Guesclin. In 1563 Charles IX. created Louis III., the head of the family of La Tremoille, duke of Thouars. In 1793 the Vendeans took the town by assault.

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